I’m a tad tired of Sacha Baron Cohen’s wacky antics, and thought Hugo was a nice showcase of what he can do if he’s trying to be something other than utterly outrageous. But is it me, or does The Dictator look…kind of good?
It’s Baron Cohen’s boldness applied to a project that almost no American filmmaker would dare touch (though the Brits have) and almost none could: treating terrorists as if they and their awful aspirations can be funny, as well as horrific. And there’s something really valuable in making terrorists small and pathetic, rather than giants we need to cower in fear from. Laughing at someone’s ideology is a good way to marginalize it. But I also like something I didn’t realize the movie was going to do, which is tackle the lives of dictators in exile. There’s something pretty funny in juxtaposing the tweeness of New York organic crunchiness with the excess of kleptocrats. Baron Cohen’s dictator has more in common with the Real Housewives than he does with them.